Just when you thought the Manti Te’o saga was finally settling down, it drops something new on you. You knew that the reported mastermind behind the Lennay Kekua hoax was Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, you knew that Te’o denied any involvement, and you knew that Tuiasosopo, according to people who knew him, had help pulling it off – one friend told ESPN’s Shelley Smith that Tuiasosopo admitted having a female cousin speak to Te’o, presumably to further the Kekua hoax. Made sense, as much as an insane story like this can make sense – after all, he needed a female voice to complete the effect. …Right?
The Heisman Trophy finalist “thought it was a female he was talking with,” lawyer Milton Grimes acknowledged to the Daily News. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”
“Come on, Hollywood does it all the time,” Grimes said Wednesday. “People can do that.”
Oh yeah – people can do that! It’s that simple! Who hasn’t pretended to be a member of the opposite sex (all while successfully fooling the person on the other end of the line) for 110 phone calls lasting over an hour? Granted, maybe Tuiasosopo wasn’t the voice of Kekua for all 110 of those calls, and maybe a large percentage of those 110 were the ones where “Kekua” was supposedly in a hospital bed barely able to speak, thus easing the talking burden on Tuiasosopo, but, uh, this is his actual voice:
We assume this is not the voice that fooled Manti Te’o, but rather that Tuiasosopo has an excellent falsetto. We assume Te’o was indeed fooled, anyway, since if he wasn’t, Tuiasosopo’s lawyer would probably say so. Well, unless the “Ronaiah was impersonating Lennay” story is a cover for something else. We don’t know, but we put absolutely nothing past this story at this point. We’re ready for just about anything.
And one more note on that “Hollywood does it all the time” line: we’re not lawyers by any stretch, but we’re not sure that’s a great defense for a non-Hollywood situation. Remember this old story from The Onion? Someone striking up a relationship by perpetrating a hoax over the phone where they pretend to be someone else could make a hell of a romantic comedy. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to sit back and await the next insane twist of the Te’o story. Oh, and hope this segment makes it on the air:
Te’o still has voicemails from his ‘girlfriend’ on his phone and played them for Couric. Te’o said to her..”Sounds like a girl, doesn’t it?”
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) January 24, 2013
We’ll see if it does, Manti. We’ll see if it does.